Synodality is a word seen often in Korean Catholic circles. We had two articles in a bulletin addressed to priests recently on the subject. In the past we would talk about partnership, team ministry, working together, they were just words but it seems there is a change in the way the words are heard recently. I wonder if the coronavirus is not the catalyst that is bringing a change.
One of the priests writes about a two-day training program on Synodality on the theme of 'God to the Church of the Third Millennium,' 'Synodality, a journey. It may seem like a new thing today, but in fact, it was there from the beginning in the long tradition of the Bible and the church. The two days spent together was to find ways to apply and practice it in the diocese and parish ministry.
Because of the coronavirus, there was some uncomfortableness among the group. However, after listening to the two lectures and sharing, the atmosphere was just right for dinner. Humans are made to live together and this is again experienced with the two-day program. The younger ones more so than the older.
In his room, he read quietly the Constitution of the Church of the Second Vatican Council. Particularly noticeable were Chapter 5, "The Church's Universal Call" and Chapter 7: "Pilgrim Church." Not only the clergy and religious but all the members of the Church are one— God does not drag us, unconditionally, but invites us with his strength and gifts.
The "sense of the faith of believers" is a gift of guidance by the Holy Spirit and the foundation of the Synodality we are called to. The writer has heard the good news of salvation, but since still in the world, he realized why co-consensus is critical as a 'road together' in an incomplete and uncertain community that wavers and moves forward.
The words he has heard most since becoming a pastor was: "Father, we want you to give us direction." Priests need to change, but the change of believers who have lived with "tell me what to do" will not be easy.
The Korean Catholic Church developed its faith from an intellectual group of seekers who were making "efforts to get the truth and seeking the right" (實事求是). Besides, those who saw the new world of equality and friendliness beyond social status were the leading players. It was a pioneering church. Society has changed, and the Church is now trying to change.
In joint participation and shared responsibility, the number of people and procedures are more complicated, but the 'moment of decision' starting from "everybody-some people-one person" is a church tradition familiar and not beyond our strength.
He concludes the article reminiscing having lived actively and with enthusiasm. But now that he has arrived at his middle 50s: "I want my fellow priests to help me, and the believers rather than respecting me to share my burden."